There is still time until the 2016 NBA draft’s fifth overall selection, Kris Dunn, takes over as the Minnesota Timberwolves’ point guard – which is why the franchise is still resisting trade overtures for Ricky Rubio, league sources told The Vertical.
The Sacramento Kings are the most determined of several teams expressing interest in finding a pathway to a Rubio deal, league sources said, but Minnesota president and coach Tom Thibodeau is reluctant to move Rubio – outside of bringing back a no-brainer package, of course – until Dunn’s progress illustrates this season that he’s ready to fully take over the team.
Thibodeau doesn’t anticipate Dunn becoming the starter until approximately 20 games into the regular season, league sources said.
Dunn has done nothing to diminish Minnesota’s belief that he’s the franchise’s point guard of the future, but the organization hasn’t wanted to rush him into the starting job. Rubio, 25, is well aware of the franchise’s plans with Dunn, but has been welcoming in his attitude toward mentoring and working with Dunn.
Nevertheless, Rubio – who’s owed nearly $43 million over the next three years – has proven to be a starting NBA point guard, and it’ll eventually make little sense for the Timberwolves to keep their highest-paid player as a backup.
The Kings have maintained a consistent interest in Rubio for months, although it’s unclear whether Sacramento has the makings of a trade package that would appeal to the Timberwolves. Sacramento has been determined to find a young point guard to run its team. The Kings were seriously engaged with Oklahoma City on a Rudy Gay deal that would have included the Thunder’s second-year point guard, Cameron Payne, but those talks stalled after Payne broke his foot in September, league sources said.
Several teams – including Philadelphia and New Orleans – have shown interest in point guard Tyus Jones, 20, whom the Wolves are more open to moving in the short term, league sources said. Thibodeau has used non-guaranteed veteran John Lucas III – a 33-year-old whom he brought back to his roster several times with the Chicago Bulls – in the preseason point-guard rotation.
Jones’ MVP performance in the NBA’s summer league did improve his standing with teams that have an interest in him as a backup point guard. Jones was the 24th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, an early entry who left Duke after helping to lead the Blue Devils to the NCAA championship.
Jones and Sixers center Jahlil Okafor were Duke teammates.
Thibodeau is determined to win games and make a run for the Western Conference playoffs this season, which complicates trade discussions that could diminish Minnesota in the short term.
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